Today is my Daddy's 83rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Daddy! We are among the few in our age bracket who still have our father. Though he doesn't always have us. His mind betrays him in the cruelest of ways. He doesn't always know for sure - anything. He often calls me by my niece's name. I joke that even when I was in my twenties, I wasn't tall, and blonde, but it's a way to mask the pain.
Watching the progression of this disease is both stunning, and terrifying. Having watched so many of our elderly relatives succumb to the cruelty of being lost before we lost them, the fear is there. But it's necessary to move on. I have children, a husband, and I'm still here.
Yesterday was one of those incredibly busy, how did I get myself roped into this, kinda days. Both of our teenagers play in the high school marching band, and there was a big game. If you've got kids involved in activities - you don't need it spelled out. Your schedule belongs to them, and the administrators, coaches, teachers, even their social life. But during dinner with the high school sophomore, the following exchange occurred:
"You're really lucky that neither my brother nor I (they really do talk that way - explains the English test scores) have any desire to do anything stupid like some teenagers."
Me - "Well, I believe you're discounting what my part in this process has been for the last 16 1/2 years." (including the time spent parenting the high school junior, and admittedly said with a slight sarcastic undertone)
Teen - "Well, you must admit that some great parents have idiots for kids, and there are also lousy parents who have great kids. There is luck involved, and perhaps genetics." (did I mention he's taking a psychology course - run for your lives)
At this point, being the exhausted coward that I am - I abandoned this discussion. I would prefer not to hear my parenting categorization until we pass the teenage years. Maybe not even then. Plus the kid has a point. This year has been full of horrors committed by teenage boys, and young men. Boredom, bullying, religion - I really don't care what the reasons are - evil is evil. And I do agree that sometimes great parents have lousy kids, and vice versa. Parenting is a crap shoot.
If you had told my two brothers and I, when we were younger, that we would rally together as well as we have to be there for our father, I feel confident in speaking for all of us - ain't no way. Daddy was not the best father. I won't speak ill other than to say that no relationship between parent and child is easy, but he made it harder than it had to be. But each of us children found a way to move on, and to become parents ourselves, and each of us have found lessons we have embraced, and recognized that he did try, and no parent is perfect, and that he has always loved us the best way he knew how. In other words, maturity happened. Parenting is hard, hard work, and none of us do a great job at it every single day. But like most of life - it's so important to give it a try, a serious try. And along the way, you may find forgiveness and love.
So Happy Birthday, Daddy! We love you, and thank you. (I'm the one who sent the ECU grill cover - don't let my brothers take credit for it - just kidding.)